Almost instantly, I can feel everyone’s eyes turn directly on me. They all stare, with blank, confused looks on their faces. I swallow hard.
“I said, will Tessa please come with me?” the man in the lab coat says, looking around the room.
His eyes finally lock with mine and a wave of recognition passes over his face.
“Ah, there you are. C’mon, it’ll be quick and easy,” he says, waving his hand.
Anger boils up inside of me, threatening to spill over. I have a strong feeling that whatever this is is not going to be quick and easy. I stare at the man, pure hatred burning in my eyes.
“What are you going to do with her?” Ian suddenly asks, breaking the tense silence.
The man turns towards Ian, clasping his thin hands together.
“I don’t believe that’s any of your business Ian,” he says, a wicked grin fleeting across his lips.
“I believe it is actually. She’s my girlfriend, and if you hurt her, I’m afraid I’m going to have to hurt you,” Ian snaps.
My heart skips a beat. The man stares at Ian for a few moments, that creepy, evil grin still on his face. Except for his appearance, this man is basically Hal.
“How sweet, but we don’t care. Now Tessa, if you don’t want to do this the hard way, please come with me now,” he finally drawls.
“You little...” Ian starts, raising his fist in the air.
But before he can continue, I blurt out,
“Stop Ian, it’s okay.”
I don’t want him to get in trouble. I don’t want them to do something terrible to him as well.
Ian whips around, raising his eyebrows at me.
“I’ll go,” I say shakily, taking a slow step towards the man.
“No, you can’t go with him! You don’t know what they’re going to do to you!” Ian shouts incredulously.
“I’ll be okay,” I say, even though everything inside of me is screaming the opposite.
Slowly but surely, I walk forwards towards the man, who is standing in the entrance to the room. The man smiles, a look of relief passing over his face. I smile back, but it is not a friendly smile. I make sure that my smile screams “I want to kill you.”
After closing and bolting the door behind him, the man begins to walk down the dark hallway. I follow him, my teeth clenched and my hands curled up into tight fists. I would definitely attack him from behind if he didn’t have that damn pistol in his right hand.
“Where are you taking me?” I ask furiously after we abruptly turn a sharp corner and begin walking down another hallway.
“You will see,” the man says airily.
Oh how badly do I want to slam this guy against the wall. But I can’t; if I do I know that I will be in loads more trouble than I already am in. To resist this urge, I clench my fists even tighter, so tight that my fingernails dig painfully into my skin.
Suddenly we stop in front of a large oak door. The man knocks twice, then announces,
There are a few moments of eerie silence, then a muffled voice responds from behind the door. My insides curl when I immediately recognize whose voice it is.
“Bring her in.”
The man twists the knob and begins to swing the heavy door open. It creaks loudly, the screechy sound making the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. Once it is fully open I peer into the room to see Hal sitting at a large, polished desk. He grins, revealing his crooked yellow teeth, and I suddenly feel a wave of nausea pass over me.
Before I can say or do anything, the man pushes me into the room and slams the door behind me. I can hear a soft click as it locks.
I am trapped.
The room is small and bare, except for the desk in the center. Despite the lack of windows, it is brightly lit by blinding, fluorescent lights on the ceiling.
“Tessa, Tessa, Tessa,” Hal murmurs, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands together.
I swallow hard, glaring at him with as much hate as I can muster. I want to punch him; he still has not wiped that stupid, false grin off of his face.
“You never fail to impress me,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I hiss through gritted teeth.
“Oh, you exactly what I mean Tessa,” Hal says, standing up from his chair and beginning to walk towards me.
Repulsed by his advancement towards me, I slowly back up until my back hits the wall.
“You are, and have always been the odd one out, haven’t you? Always standing out from the rest, always resisting our control...” Hal begins.
He approaches me, and I push back against the wall even further, wishing that I could melt into it. He then reaches out, gently pushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear. Disgusted, I slap his hand and push him away from me.
“You’re a little rebel, aren’t you?” Hal smirks, grinning.
By this point I am literally shaking with rage.
“Why am I here?” I ask sharply.
Hal crosses his arms across his chest, then says,
“I want to give you your final warning Tessa. All this ‘standing out from the rest’ and ‘being a rebel’ has to stop now.”
I stare at him blankly, having absolutely nothing to say.
“Just one more toe out of line, and I’m afraid that you’re not going to like the consequences,” Hal says, grinning wickedly again.
This is all just unfair. I can’t help it that I am unable to be hypnotized by them. I can’t help it them I am the only one they can’t seem to control.
“Do you understand?” Hal asks, his grey eyes piercing into mine like daggers.
I continue to stare at him silently.
“I said, do you understand me?” he asks again, this time much louder and forceful.
“Yes,” I blurt out.
He nods slowly, his eyes still trained on me.
“Alright then, you may go back”
Hal walks towards the door and calls out,
“You can take her back now!”
There is the sound of a key twisting, then a click. The door swings open, revealing the man who escorted me here. He roughly grabs my arm and begins to pull me out of the room and back into the dark hallway. Hal walks back to his desk and sits down in the chair, stretching his legs up onto its surface. Right before we walk away, he calls out to me,
“I’ll see you all tomorrow at noon!”
Confused, I raise my eyebrows.
“What happens tomorrow at noon?” I ask slowly.
“It begins” Hal says.
“What begins?” I ask, trying to not sound as nervous as I feel.
Hal licks his thin, sallow lips as they curl into a smile.
“Get ready for some traveling.”
I have a very bad feeling that we’re going back to a place that I thought I was never going to step foot on again.